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Jerusalem surgeons reattach Arab boy’s head after internal decapitation

"I will thank you all my life for saving my dear only son," the father told medical staff.

Dr. Ohad Einav and Dr. Ziv Asa with 12-year-old Suleiman Hassan. Credit: Hadassah Medical Center.
Dr. Ohad Einav and Dr. Ziv Asa with 12-year-old Suleiman Hassan. Credit: Hadassah Medical Center.

Surgeons at Hadassah Medical Center-Ein Kerem managed to reattach a boy’s head after a horrific accident left him internally decapitated.

A car hit Suleiman Hassan, a 12-year-old Arab from the Judea and Samaria region, as he rode his bike, the Jerusalem hospital announced.

After he was airlifted to Hadassah’s trauma unit, doctors discovered that the ligaments holding the rear base of his skull were seriously damaged, leaving it disconnected from the top vertebrae of his spine.

“The injury is extremely rare, but we do know that because children between ages four and 10 have heads that are large in relation to their bodies, they are more susceptible than adults,” Dr. Ohad Einav, the orthopedic specialist who led the extremely rare surgery together with Dr. Ziv Asa, said.

Studies suggest that over half of children and adolescents do not survive the condition, also known as bilateral atlanto-occipital joint dislocation.

“We fought for the boy’s life,” Einav added. “While in the operating room, we used new plates and fixations in the damaged area. … Our ability to save the child was thanks to our knowledge and the most innovative technology in the operating room.”

Showing no neurologic or motor deficiencies, Hassan was recently discharged from the hospital. Hadassah doctors will continue to monitor him.

Hassan’s father did not leave his bedside during his recovery from surgery, medical staff reported. “I will thank you all my life for saving my dear only son. Bless you all,” he said.

“Thanks to you he regained his life even when the odds were low and the danger was obvious. What saved him were professionalism, technology and quick decision-making by the trauma and orthopedics team,” the Palestinian father said.

In March of this year, Newsweek named Hadassah Medical Center a world leader in oncology and for the fifth straight year one of the globe’s top hospitals in both cardiology and smart technology.

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